A PENSIONER accused of indecently assaulting a young girl more than 50 years ago has had his conviction overturned.

Alec Smith, now 77, was found guilty of touching the girl inappropriately while they sat together on a sofa in the Clacton area in 1969.

Following his trial at Ipswich Crown Court, overseen by Judge Martyn Levett in 2017, Mr Smith was given a two year prison term suspended for two years.

But he has now won an appeal meaning his conviction has been quashed.

In a written judgement released by Lord Justice Irwin, following a Court of Appeal hearing, he said that an alleged confession, which Mr Smith, always denied, should not have gone before the jury and that it would be inappropriate for there to be another trial.

The complainant had mentioned the confession, which she had not herself heard, when she gave evidence.

He said: “This was highly prejudicial evidence and, in the context in which it fell to be considered, had the capacity to act as confirmation of the guilt of the appellant.

“It should not have been admitted and the warnings given by the learned judge were, in our view, insufficient to remove the important prejudicial effect.

“We have already ruled that it is not in the interests of justice, after more than 50 years from the alleged offence and in the context of a case where a non-custodial sentence was passed and the relevant work requirement completed, for there to be a retrial.”

The girl told her parents about the alleged assault immediately after it happened and they confronted Mr Smith.

However, no complaint was made to the police until much later when an investigation was launched and Mr Smith, of Little Wood, Kirby Cross, was arrested.

He has, however, always protested his innocence.

As part of his sentence, he was made the subject of notification requirements for ten years, put onto a barred list and handed a restraining order.

All of those will also be quashed after his conviction was overturned.

He will also not have to pay the £4,200 contribution to court costs.